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by Abigail Van Buren

In-Laws' Public Reserve Is Wife's Private Frustration

DEAR ABBY: My mother is 59. My father was 74 when he died last year. They had been married for 40 years. When they met, my mother was 19, and Father was a 34-year-old widower with a 4-year-old son I'll call Max.

When Dad died, Mom went to a grief counselor who told her to "go for it." Nine months later, Mom moved Max into her bedroom! Max is my half-brother, but technically he is not a blood relative to my mother.

I thought it showed terrible judgment on her part when she had him move in with her, and most of my relatives agreed. After all, Max had been my mother's stepson for 40 years.

Abby, is our society so morally bankrupt that this is considered OK? Max is 44 and has been married five times. -- MORTIFIED

DEAR MORTIFIED: Let me put it this way: In at least 15 states, marriage between "step" relatives is prohibited by law. And in the other 35, I'm willing to bet that the behavior exhibited by your mother would raise eyebrows. However, both are adults, and neither one has solicited my advice.